In 2016, Srikanth Ch, who was generally very active, suddenly found himself on complete bed rest for two months because of a disc bulge.
“I struggled to carry my kids and every doctor advised me against it,” he says.
An enterprising individual who had, just a few months ago, sold his startup Styl to Voonik, Srikanth began rigorously researching exercises and supplements that could help him pull himself out of the enervative state he was in.
When he scanned online marketplaces and websites to purchase natural supplements, he realised that most companies did not disclose to users what their lab test results were, especially when it came to contaminants present in the products.
Given the plethora of stories on the internet about how heavy chemical contaminants in herbal supplements had caused fatal diseases and even deaths in people who had consumed them, this didn’t sit well with Srikanth.
He decided to do something about it, and foundedwith his friends, Varun and Rajesh Jampana, in 2018.
The nutrition-focused startup has over 40 products that help people address nutritional deficiencies and deal with problems such as diabetes, joint pains, stress, low immunity, and heart issues, with the use of herbs and extracts that are free of heavy metals.
Since COVID-19, more and more people are turning to herbal and Ayurvedic nutrition to strengthen their immunity against new diseases and viruses. The sudden increase in the number of supplements and nutrition companies, birthed over the last two years to capture this demand, has seen many contaminated products proliferate the market.
With India leading the way with its innovative, and age-old tested and tried Ayurvedic remedies, the nutraceutical market in the country is expected to hit $10.20 billion by 2026, up from $3.92 billion in 2020, growing 22% year-on-year, as per a report by the Food Safety and Standards Authority in India.
Hyderabad-based Bbetter has raised nearly $1.5 million in funding from investors including 8i Ventures, Redbus founder Phanindra Sama, TaxiForSure founder Raghunandan G, and Voonik-founder Sujayath Ali.
Test group: Family
Every Bbetter product comes with a leaflet that shows how many contaminants, especially heavy metals, are present in that batch. The products are manufactured at WHO-GMP or FDA-approved units.
“We want people to trust the quality of the product they’re investing in, which is why we make all these disclosures to them. We want customers to return because they trust Bbetter,” Srikanth tells YS.
“From sourcing raw materials from organic growers to lab-testing each batch, we ensure we’re making supplements that we can confidently give to our family and consume ourselves. In fact, after every R&D cycle is completed and we go into mass production, we test the first couple of batches on our family members and ourselves, because that is how confident we are that our products are contaminant-free.”
The startup sells vitamins, minerals, and Ayurvedic supplements in the form of tablets, soft gels, gummies, effervescent tablets, and powders. Products sold via its own website, as well as popular marketplaces, include Vitamin D3, flaxseed oil, ashwagandha, marine collagen, and triphala.
Bbetter competes with Healthkart, Cureveda, WOW Skin Science, SimplyHerbal, and Vedik Roots.
Srikanth says the company has been seeing traction in Tier I, II, and III cities. Most of its products currently only focus on adults, but the startup plans to launch a range of gummies for kids soon.
The average price of its products is Rs 650, and, as of June, its repeat rate for its bestselling products was 69%.
The startup crossed Rs 1 crore in revenue from sales just a month ago.
Currently sold online across India, the startup says it wants to get into retail soon. Srikanth also hopes to expand into the US and Europe markets in the next six to eight months, having already finished the registration and documentation process.